Montreal Canadiens: Could They Recreate Subban-Markov Magic With Their Young Defenders?

The Montreal Canadiens of the early 2010s had an array of lacklustre talent up front, and aside from Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty, they lacked depth. A saving grace was that rookie PK Subban was to make his NHL debut, and there was quite a bit of anticipation for the Rexdale, Ontario native. Selected in the second round of the 2007 NHL Draft, Subban scored 38 points (14 goals & 24 assists) through 77 games during his rookie campaign.

Subban’s eventual defence partner was the perfect complement to his abrasive, offensive style; he was more of a mobile defensive defender, who had underrated skills in the offensive zone. He thought the game at a high level and made smart plays with the puck routinely. Where Markov best padded the stat sheet was on the power play, serving as the tee-up man for Subban and his bomb of a shot.

These two fit together like two puzzle pieces, and they balance each other out and make up for each other’s shortcomings. Markov could stay back and provide a steady option for a support pass or cover for Subban when he would dash up the ice end-to-end. Subban was the flash and Markov the calm and steady presence, with a heavy shot, and brilliant passing ability.

A pair that was so effective back then would certainly be a welcomed presence on the Canadiens’ current back end. And projected at the top of the Canadiens’ depth chart, are two modern-day defenders who both skate like the wind and have size and a physical presence but stylistically they are pretty opposite of one another. One more of a physical defence first rearguard, with great mobility and untapped offensive potential, and the other equally as brilliant of a skater but more offensive-minded, and a great shooter.

The Canadiens Modern Era Subban-Markov?

Logan Mailloux and Kaiden Guhle may never be as good as Markov and Subban were, but they look primed to play big minutes on the Canadiens blueline for the next 10-15 seasons. Together they have everything that you could ask for in a defensive pairing, and they are both just 20 and 21 years old. One has played just his rookie year, and the other is set to play his first year of professional hockey.

Yes, it is way too early to compare them to anybody, especially two defenders who are etched in the Canadiens Hall of Fame. It wouldn’t be fair to expect that of them, but they both look to be massive pieces, with a high importance in the plans for the Habs’ future. One could be a number one unit power play quarterback, while the other one is featured on the team’s number one penalty kill unit.

If all things go right the 6’3” 220 lbs Mailloux, and 6’2” 209 lbs Guhle could form a duo on the Habs defence that will frustrate the opposition in all three zones. And because of their extended special teams minutes, they will be out there against their opponents’ best players for most of any given game. They can, and will both produce points at the NHL level and are willing to step up for a big hit or drop their gloves in defence of a teammate if it’s needed.

I’m not of the belief that every defenseman needs to be over six feet tall and two hundred pounds, considering the fact that Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox can take over the game and all are sub-six-foot defenders. But having too many small defensemen on the team could be seen as a weakness during the playoffs and someone to target. I am beyond excited for Lane Hutson to arrive and I think Miguel Tourigny has a future in the NHL, but having a pair that is big and rugged will pay its dues during the playoffs when the level of physicality increases.

With David Reinbacher and Hutson potentially forming one pair, Mailloux and Guhle could be another, and that could be a top four that the Canadiens run with for a long time. A blend of four intelligent, mobile and effective defenders could be the perfect one-two punch that balances out the Canadiens attack. The modern-day Subban and Markov could look to etch their names in the Canadiens’ record books and one of the next great defensive pairings to don the bleu, blanc and rouge of the Canadiens’ famous hockey sweaters.

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